The 2018 season began Saturday for The University baseball team, and there is one common goal: a Landmark Conference Championship.
This will be the 10th year of baseball in the Landmark Conference since its inception back in 2008. In that first year, Scranton finished as a runner-up, falling to rival The Catholic University of America. Scranton would finish as a runner-up again in 2013, but still has yet to win the title.
This year, Scranton has an opportunity to not only win the Landmark Conference title for the first time, but they have a chance to do it in front of a home crowd, as the new south side sports complex will host the conference tournament in its inaugural season.
“I, along with all of my teammates, have one goal in mind, to win the Landmark championship on the new field in front of our home crowd. We know what were made of and know that we have what it takes to do so,” Senior catcher Kevin Nolan said.
The Scranton Royals are currently picked to finish in sixth place out of 7 teams in the preseason poll that was released February 13. This poll serves as extra motivation for seniors, such as Nolan.
Although this is team will be returning 14 seniors to this year’s squad, the seniors are not the only ones that are motivated.
Kyle Bravin, a sophomore pitcher, expects nothing but a conference title. Though, he acknowledges that the pitching staff must step up in a big way.
“I’d say as of right now, our weakness is probably our pitching, but that’s just because we’re unproven. We have some solid freshman coming in and a lot of guys coming back from surgery, so if I had to pick something it would be our pitching. We have a lot to prove,” Bravin said.
Scranton has always been a good hitting team, posting a .302 batting average in 2017. Many of those same bats are returning to this year’s team.
If the pitching and hitting can put up good numbers, Scranton should be a fun team to watch and they could have a chance at capturing that elusive first Landmark Conference Championship.